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Where can i find the actual poem "The Black Walnut Tree" by Mary Oliver?I need it for...

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liyah | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 17, 2009 at 3:26 AM via web

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Where can i find the actual poem "The Black Walnut Tree" by Mary Oliver?

I need it for my homework

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mrs-campbell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 17, 2009 at 10:51 AM (Answer #1)

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Well, I don't think that it is available on the web; I looked, and had no luck.  I actually have a copy of the poem, because I own the book "New and Selected Poems:  Volume One" by Mary Oliver, and the poem is in there.  This book was published by Beacon Press in Boston, in 1992, on pages 201-202, just so you have the information for a full citation for it. Here are the first few lines (the back-slashes indicate a line break):

"My mother and I debate:/we could sell the black walnut tree/to the lumberman,/and pay off the mortgage."

I hope that helps with your homework a bit; it's a great poem about the powerful memories and familial ties that trees and other great structures built by strong hands can have, and a tribute to respecting the work and cares of those that have gone before us.  I hope that you enjoy it!  I also provided a couple great links to some discussions of Mary Oliver's style and themes, which might help with your homework too.

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sumerbreez | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 27, 2010 at 6:58 AM (Answer #2)

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The Black Walnut Tree
by Mary Oliver

My mother and I debate:
we could sell
the black walnut tree
to the lumberman,
and pay off the mortgage.
Likely some storm anyway
will churn down its dark boughs,
smashing the house. We talk
slowly, two women trying
in a difficult time to be wise.
Roots in the cellar drains,
I say, and she replies
that the leaves are getting heavier
every year, and the fruit
harder to gather away.
But something brighter than money
moves in our blood-an edge
sharp and quick as a trowel
that wants us to dig and sow.
So we talk, but we don't do
anything. That night I dream
of my fathers out of Bohemia
filling the blue fields
of fresh and generous Ohio
with leaves and vines and orchards.
What my mother and I both know
is that we'd crawl with shame
in the emptiness we'd made
in our own and our fathers' backyard.
So the black walnut tree
swings through another year
of sun and leaping winds,
of leaves and bounding fruit,
and, month after month, whip
crack of the mortgage.

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